1 + 1 Does NOT = 2 … does it?


Wow – that word by itself elicits feelings of dread, terror, and boredom! And, yet, it really is an essential part of our everyday lives. While it is true that much of the math we learn in school will never be applicable (only about … 90% of it? I’ll let the math teachers calculate that out for us), math provides everyday value to how we live: at the store, calculating gas mileage, rearranging furniture, calculating possibilities and so much more! But, what is thought of as one of the most straight-forward, constant / unchanging principals and lessons that can be taught, math is technically as vague, if not more so, than any other subject!

Let’s start at the beginning:

1 + 1 = 2.

Really? Let’s put that into perspective:

applemathIn our example, 1 apple + 1 apple = 2 apples. Simple, right? Well… I guess in retrospect, I could have substituted one of the apples:

appleorangemathHere, 1 apple + 1 orange = 2 app … um, oran… um – 2 fruits! Yay, so my answer is now entirely subjective because we can’t add apples and oranges (or at least, that’s the “rule” of thumb in school). And, the assignment of units to each of the values is no longer effective. But, what if we add something like this:

containermath1 container + 1 container = 2 containers … but –

this also equals 6 apples, or about 60 seeds, or about a billion molecules, or about a trillion subatomic particles … and so on and so on.

And, from this basic concept we get algebra, where A + B = C and we can assign any value to A, B, or C that we want. Still – any value we assign to those letters would typically not be the total value or that designation. Thanks to economic concepts such as inflation, the value of 1 cent is not 1 cent. The number written on that coin is a only a representation of its portion of value as assigned to the product you wish to buy … and again … only as long as that product is in U.S. dollars, or once again, you’d have to consider it a representative value.

Therefore, numbers not only have the value we assign to them, but also the referenced conceptual units and the values we assign to those. So, does 1 + 1 ever equal 2? Factually … no. But, just as made up as the numbers, their values, and their assignments (and the different perspectives to those factors), we can pretend it does!!! 🙂


3 thoughts on “1 + 1 Does NOT = 2 … does it?

  1. Statisticians – 1+1=3 for the larger value of1
    Managers – 1+1=2 because of “synergy”
    Economists – 1+1 is different every month. Accountants and policymakers – 1+1 can be equal to anything they want.


  2. Well, if we’re going to talk workplace economics here … 1 + 1 varies based on the size of the organization. Agreed on economists and accounting, especially with “creative” accounting. If there’s government funding involved, on the cost share side, 1 + 1 = 10, but on the receiving side, 1 + 1 = ~0.2. Of coursel, if it comes to taxes, 1 + 1 = 0 for the company, because for the State, 1 + 1 = 6,791 per value of 1!!!! On the other hand, you can look at it from the perspective of the employee …. 1 + 1 = -12, especially if you’re contract labor or salary exempt!! HAHAHA – love the feedback, thank you!


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